Local Supplier Development

Growing and connecting community businesses

“I started in agriculture because I’ve had a love for the land, plants and trees since a very young age,” says Jairo Gustavo Cuenca Armijos, a 29-year-old farmer who, along with his wife, parents and siblings, tends to 12 hectares in Los Encuentros, Ecuador. Jairo’s land produces traditional crops such as cacao, plantain, oranges and peach palm, among others. “This is a labour of love. Only if you really like working the land can you do this job, because it’s hard and requires a lot of commitment.”

While Jairo’s dedication to his work has never waned, his farm has faced obstacles, both on and off the fields. “We used to plant and harvest available crops without much knowledge or planning,” he says. “There was no stable market and we weren’t obtaining fair prices for our products, which also weren’t the best quality. We didn’t even think that new, diverse crops could be feasible on our lands.” That changed after joining the Foundation’s Takataii program in 2018, he says. “Our involvement in Takataii helped us to realize our potential.”

Takataii, which means “farming the land” in Ecuador’s Shuar Indigenous language, was developed to support Catering Las Peñas (CLP), a locally owned catering company serving the Fruta del Norte mine. CLP is another Foundation initiative that was launched back in 2015. With the success of CLP, which by its third year was achieving 175 percent year-over-year revenue growth, the company teamed up with the Foundation to create Takataii, a targeted program that helps develop local farmers to become CLP fruit and vegetable suppliers through technical assistance, business management training and microfinancing. Consequently, CLP would no longer need to obtain all its produce from other parts of the country. In addition to Jairo’s family, the program supported 80 local producers in 2018.

We didn’t even think that new crops could be feasible on our lands. This project helped us realize our potential.”

Through Takataii, Jairo’s agricultural knowledge has grown—spanning product cycles to pest and disease control—and with it, the farm has begun to thrive. His offering has expanded, including many short-cycle crops, such as watermelon, papaya and tomato. “The products that we harvest now are of higher quality because there is an optimum selection of seeds. With better seeds, we have better products and can obtain better prices.”

By 2019, Takataii producers increased their sales to CLP by 29 percent; currently, 39 percent of all CLP purchases come from farmers in the community adjacent to the mine. Jairo would like to see more young people stay in the community and join the agricultural movement, rather than migrating to large cities for economic opportunities. “The cities can grow and develop thanks to the work we do here producing the food they consume,” he says. “I hope my story motivates young people to become entrepreneurs and devote their lives to working the land. They won’t regret it.”

“I hope my story motivates young people to become entrepreneurs and devote their life to working the land.”

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Our initiatives strive to improve people's lives and protect the planet and are in support of the following UN SDGs:

No Poverty
Decent Work and Economic Growth